Gender inequality in the medicine field: two commonly issues

Dr Tedros WHO

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of World Health Organisation (WHO, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Andra Kerševičiūtė, a 2nd year medical student at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Lithuania. Ms Kerševičiūtė is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

It is usual for a discussion on gender equality to develop into a debate about the pros and cons of each gender. It is questionable why people concentrate mainly on it while the main problems are judging others, believing in stereotypes and having limited approach. The 21st century promotes tolerance and eliminates old cultural and ethical restraints and although the field of medicine is not an exception to such changes, some inequality issues are still apparent.

Firstly, physicians’ specialisations are often divided into stereotypically feminine or masculine. For example, some people believe that all surgeons should be male, whereas women are intrinsically emotional, irrational and cannot dedicate their time fully because of maternity leave. Female is by no means the best gender, as there is no best gender – it is only a matter of personalities. The question we should be asking ourselves: whether every man is strong, resolute, rational and responsible?

No, since everyone is different, some might be amusing and resolute, some irresponsible but clever, therefore the notion that all men have the same character is obviously false. Then, how come it’s acceptable to claim that a particular gender may fit better for a certain profession? The ability to work in a job that you love is an excellent motivation in life, undoubtedly, it’s wrong to assume that profession is a matter of gender. Surgery isn’t the only field that is commonly stereotyped. Some people still know which sex fits more to gynecologist, dietitian and nurse, isn’t it?

Secondly, there is a lack of information about the third gender. Some countries do not officially recognise it, but in my opinion it’s a question of time. It’s a relevant problem in medical field as well, as some medical employees find it difficult to communicate with such people. Even the slightest physician’s confusion or their fear of sounding offensive may lead to a patient feeling uncomfortable. It’s of utmost importance to talk more about the third gender. Doctors are often community leaders, who must show that we should respect every human and everything that is alive.

In the past it was a taboo to talk about the third gender, but today everything is different. As Albert Einstein once told “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving“. The world is changing and if you want to keep up, you have to understand that sometimes you might be wrong, even some scientific facts might become false and some fiction might become – reality. If you want to keep balance, a cosmopolitan attitude is essential for a physician as any other person.

We should prejudice less, because there is no proof that someone is better than the other, and even the judge in the court decides the defendant’s future, but never humiliates them. Certainly, it is important to never identify minoroties as ”freaks”, never judge others by appearance, skin color or gender and stop labeling people because we are all human, not mere professions, neither genders nor diagnosis.

About the author

Andra Kerševičiūtė is a 2nd year medical student at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Lithuania. Since her first year at the university she became an active member of Lithuanian Medical Students’ Association and joined the Public Relations and Communication where he engages in writing articles on the relevant medical issues. Andra is also a former author of an online journal for Lithuanian girls ”Panelė”. She actively takes part in volunteering as well as.

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